"It's all in sound" cries the first track on Bullion's mini-album, a weirdly prescient declaration of exactly what this record does best. It's the non-verbal where Bullion's genius really comes to the fore. Only recently has the producer ventured into putting his own voice down on tracks, with previous vocal-laden single 'Say Arr Ee', released on the mighty R&S. It's an approach that's worked well for other electronic artists, James Blake being an obvious example. Lyrically though, the two couldn't be further apart. Where Blake is all poetic turns of phrase and trembling metaphors, Bullion's lyrics are characterised by a brutish desire for the mundane and, at times, gratingly obvious: "You can fly again/ girls go by again/sky goes by again", "This set up/I feel het up/there is no let up".
The clash between this slavish rigidity in lyrics and the free and intuitive way Bullion has with instrumentation is interesting but makes the whole weirdly incohesive. His first ever effort was a tribute to the Beach Boys and J Dilla (Pet Sounds in the Key of Dee). This homage to J Dilla, master of the beat whose instrumental albums stand up to those with vocals, is where Bullion wanted to start - but would 'Love Me Oh Please Love Me' perhaps be a more effective instrumental work?
The cover of Robert Wyatt's 'The Age Of Self' is a pretty excellent choice lyrically (a change from the bluntness of Bullion's own words) and the tempo shifts are a joy. This version lightens the original, taking out the ominous bassline, although his voice mimics its britpop-ish candour. And if Robert Wyatt thought that 'The Age of Self' had arrived in 1985, surely in 2012, it's only continued to grow. Now it's not so threatening though, it's the trivial touch of the everyday mindless postmodern trudge that have turned the "we're all consumers now" into a daily nightmare with a smile on its face that asks you to dance to your own death.
The thing is, this is such a pleasurable record with some truly clever and heavenly moments: the sax at the end of 'The Age of Self', 'Save Your Lubb's' floating crescendo of an introduction, the metallic sitarish jangle of guitar and meandering harmonica on 'Family' that could have come off a Fleetwood Mac record, for me, are all perfect. The vocals just break through this approach though, bringing it all back to the mundane. For me, this record? It's all in sound.